AT one stage, four department heads of Waterstone's bookstore branches were joined to the Lipstadt Action as defendants, but Mr Irving separated them from the action before the trial began. The affidavit below was sworn by Mrs Roop N., David Irving's personal assistant (a native of the Punjab), describing an episode she witnessed in 1997 at a Waterstone's branch in Colchester, Essex. It is illustrative of the problems of doing business with Waterstone's. (Note that the High Court subsequently adjudged that the Lipstadt book was not in fact libellous, except in some allegations which the Court deemed to be of lesser importance.)
Affidavit by Mrs Roop N.
1. I have been employed by the Plaintiff for the last six months as permanent secretary and personal assistant. On Thursday, February 6, 1997 I accompanied the Plaintiff on a further section of his sales and promotion tour for his latest book. At 12:45 p.m. on that date in the company of the Plaintiff I entered the branch of Waterstones Booksellers Ltd situate at Culver Place, Colchester, Essex and witnessed the following exchanges between the Plaintiff and members of the staff of the aforementioned bookshop.
2. The Plaintiff asked a staff member which person was the History Book Buyer, and he was directed to a young woman seated at a desk reading a paper at the back of the store. The Plaintiff showed her the books which we are currently offering including Nuremberg, the Last Battle. After the merits of the book were explained, the Buyer declined to take any copies, stating to the Plaintiff in my hearing: "I don't think he is any good. I don't think very much of his writing." The Plaintiff inquired, "Have you read any of his books?" The Buyer answered: "No, I have not." The Plaintiff asked, "Then on what basis have you formed that opinion?" The Buyer replied, "From what I have read." The Plaintiff asked if that included the very favourable reviews of Mr Irving's writings by for example Hugh Trevor Roper and the American Professor Gordon C Craig, adding that Craig said that historians could not ignore Mr Irving's researches on the Nazi era. I saw the Plaintiff open an advertisement printed in the rear pages of the book Nuremberg, the Last Battle which contained these lengthy passages. The Buyer pushed the book aside, saying that she was not interested in them and that she made the decisions which books Waterstones would sell.
3. The Plaintiff then asked her if she had in stock a book by Deborah Lipstadt. The Buyer spelled out the name, then pulled up the record on her computer screen, and said, "Yes, Denying the Holocaust, we have several copies in stock." This was a reference to the book which is published by the First Defendants and is written by the Second Defendant in this action.
4. The Plaintiff asked if she was aware that the book is libellous and is the subject of libel litigation. The Buyer said, "I have read it and I think it is good and that's the reason why I stock it." After the Plaintiff mentioned the name of Mr McRedmond, the Buyer further stated that she had not been instructed by head ofÞce not to sell this particular book. She added: "You don't need to give me instructions." The Plaintiff then politely said, "Would you mind telling me your name please," and The Buyer said, "It is Yolande." The whole conversation to this point had been conducted in courteous and polite language.
5. I then accompanied the Plaintiff out of the front door of the store, past the main desk, into the street. I heard the Buyer shout after us, "And don't bother coming here again either." As we reached the door, the Buyer ran screeching after us, calling out loudly, to the amazement of the other staff and customers, "Do yer mind telling me who you are?" The Plaintiff pointed to the author's name on the book, and said with a smile, "You have been talking to him in person." The Buyer shouted, "Oh you bastard. You bastard!" and added some more unmentionable words to the further astonishment of the staff. I saw customers all over the store turn round to look at the source of this commotion.
6. Immediately after this episode I witnessed the Plaintiff writing a number of hand-written notes on a sheet of paper which I provided to him, and I assisted him in reconstructing in writing what had just occurred.